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Snow cleanup price tag: $75,000 in city

Thursday, February 27, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Martinsville City Council on Tuesday learned that the cleanup from this month’s snowstorm cost the city about $75,000.

The figure includes costs for materials, employee overtime and equipment wear and tear, according to City Manager Leon Towarnicki and Public Works Director Jeff Joyce.

If it can get federal disaster assistance funds, the state may reimburse the city for some of the expense, officials said.

But city officials will “believe it when we see it,” Towarnicki told the council.

Joyce said Wednesday that “a complicated formula” is used to determine whether the state — and localities, in turn — get disaster aid.

During the storm, the city had a lot of employees “with little to no experience pushing snow,” Towarnicki said.

“We’ve had a large turnover” of public works employees in recent years due to employees retiring or taking higher-paying jobs, Joyce said.

Also, it had been years since Martinsville saw so much snow, he said.

The National Weather Service has reported that an average of 14 inches fell across the area.

Still, city crews did a good job removing snow from streets after the storm, officials said.

“Our goal is to hit every street within 24 hours” after wintry precipitation stops falling, Joyce said.

Snow stopped falling at about 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13, and a plow had gone down every street and road at least once by mid-afternoon the next day, he said.

Towarnicki said a few complaints were received and resolved about plows piling snow in cul-de-sacs, at the ends of driveways and near mailboxes.

Also Tuesday, the council found out that Southern Virginia is on its way to meeting a goal for 2,312 of the region’s residents to earn National Career Readiness Certificates.

As of Jan. 31, 1,232 people in the region — 53 percent of the goal — had earned certificates, according to Lisa Fultz, executive director of the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board (WIB).

That includes 132 people in Martinsville, Fultz said, which represents 54 percent of a goal for 243 city residents to earn certificates.

The WIB and the Dan River Regional Collaborative are encouraging people to earn the certificate, which evaluates a person’s skills at math, reading to get information and finding information, such as by interpreting graphs and pie charts. It also is designed to reveal workers’ productivity and dependability levels, teamwork and customer service skills, and management potential.

Having the certificate “makes you more marketable” as a worker, Fultz said. She noted that some area companies, such as Eastman, now expect workers they hire to have the certificate.

If it meets its goal by June 2015, Southern Virginia will be recognized as a Certified Work Ready Community. That could help the region lure companies, officials have said.

In showing companies that area workers have skills needed to do modern jobs, the certification “sets us apart” better than census data, Fultz said.

Also Tuesday, the council:

• Adopted a resolution asking the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to increase its street maintenance payments to Martinsville.

The recent Liberty Street widening project resulted in the construction of two additional travel lanes with a total length of almost a mile. The city is asking VDOT to give it money to maintain those lanes starting in 2015.

City Engineer Chris Morris said the additional mileage should result in VDOT giving the city about $18,000 extra. He said he did not know how much the city now is getting altogether in street maintenance payments. Other city officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

• Was introduced to David Brahmstadt, the city’s new human resources manager, who started his job in December. He previously worked for a furniture manufacturer in Danville, according to Towarnicki.

 

 
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